A bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would end the issuance of special certificates that allow employers to pay employees with disabilities below minimum wage.
Under current federal law, the Secretary of Labor can grant special wage certificates to employers of workers with disabilities exempting those disabled workers from Fair Labor Standards Act minimum wage requirements. The text of H.R. 3086, entitled the “Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2011,” states that the current law dates back eighty years to a time when there were few opportunities for disabled workers in the mainstream workforce. The bill cites advancements in vocational rehabilitation, technology, and training as allowing disabled workers to be as productive as non-disabled workers, resulting in a dramatic increase in the number of disabled employees in the workforce and eliminating any need for the current practice.
The proposed legislation was introduced October 4, 2011, by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and is co-sponsored by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Mo.). It has been referred to the House Education and Workforce Committee. If the bill becomes law, special wage certificates would no longer be issued, and existing certificates issued to private, for-profit employers would be revoked one year after the bill’s enactment. Those issued to public entities and non-profits would be revoked after two years and three years, respectively.
We here at the GT L&E Blog will monitor this bill and keep our readers informed about any developments.